The Third Eurasian Women’s Forum was held on 13-15 October 2021 in Saint Petersburg.
The slogan of the forum was “Women: A Global Mission in a New Reality.” Even this theme implies change. I believe that we are already going through a period of change, and we shall all be subject to changes and will have new realities in our lives.
HE President Putin of the Russian Federation in his speech at the Plenary in the dome said that women play an increasingly important role in resolving issues in the society and they encounter many choices in the modern world, so they should not be facing choices between family and self-fulfillment. He continued to say that it is completely obvious that the woman should not face a choice between children and family or professional life. That is why in in the Russian Federation they are trying to make the conditions available to encourage women work and after childbirth to resume their professional career. Childcare was always in the scope of Russia, and it continues to be even more so.
Care economy and childcare has also been a major scope for the W20 that would enable sustainable growth in the respective G20 economies leading the way to supporting women’s inclusion in economic and social life.
This was the Third Eurasian Women’s Forum. First one was held in 2015. In the second Eurasian Women’s Forum in 2018, I had received public recognition award, which I am very proud of. This year “the women public recognition award, among several other women winners, went to the W20 Italian Sherpa Martina Rogato. I was as happy as my award to see her on the stage as an award winner. This year in 2021 Italy has been assuming the G20 Presidency. It has been a challenging year for the W20 with mixed real and virtual meetings and many topics that needed the attention mostly due to Covid, like women’s health and domestic violence, as well as mental health issues. Italy managed this complicated year with elegance and Martina Rogato, the Italian W20 Sherpa was one of the three key players that made the Italian W20 Communique a reality.
Vanda Gagiano lives in South Africa. She is the President of Free State Women’s Agricultural Union. She is a public speaker and an advocate for women’s rights and gender equality.
The Eurasian Forum has a think tank perspective for women’s political, economic and social inclusion issues and many important women were invited to attend the forum and many women made online or real time contributions.
The Forum was organized by the Federation Council of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation and Interparliamentary Assembly of the Commonwealth of Independent States (IPA CIS). The host of the Forum was HE Valentina Matviyenko, the Speaker of the Federation Council of the Russian Federation. She made the opening speech at the plenary session. Madam Speaker of the Federation Council HE Matviyenko in her speech asked the global women’s community she is hosting to concentrate on improving people’s quality of life as well as building a mutual understanding and promote trust between countries and peoples for peace and sustainable development in their respective societies. It was very impressive when Madam Speaker HE Matviyenko presented a film in the space shuttle with a women astronaut on how they view women’s participation at all stances.
I also had a chance to made a speech in the dome at the Plenary session which I am very proud of this opportunity. In my speech I mentioned that work and life balance has been even an amplified choice during the Covid and we all need to attend to this care issue with scrutiny for women who are multi-tasking between family, home, child care and challenging work as more leaders in many countries are now saying we need women in business spheres as leaders, we want them work at the civil society or be leader in politics and so on. As the leaders in many countries, we have been eating on a tablecloth and leaving the dirt on the tables with non-inclusive strategies, it is the time we wake up and clean up the dirt on tablecloth by holding from every angle without letting it spill on the floor.
I also mentioned that with the changes we are going through, we need to be careful and not leave anybody behind. Women are more vulnerable to be left behind in our societies. With Covid many women in the cities have fallen behind and they are trying to survive without food on their tables to feed their families. This time it is even more serious than earlier, leaving nobody behind efforts which had in fact progressed quite well. I mentioned that we live in one global and transparent world and in this room with so many established leaders, cannot look to the other side but should observe and solve the developments in Afghanistan by being aside and in favor of women.
I also made a speech at the Business Dialogue Women’s Cooperation in International Trade session. In this international trade session, there were many impressive women CEOs with successful experience in international trade from timber business to marshmallow production as well as imperial porcelain manufacturing, to French and Russian Business Club or the Russian Export Agency. All these women have already achieved quite much so far. I suggested that they expand their network even more and enhance their presence, have excellent communication, and not forget that costs must be controlled in international business to stay competitive.
I have been to Saint Petersburg a few times. This time I managed to visit the Hermitage Museum for the first time ever. This time work and life balance worked for me. On Saturday I walked a total of sixteen kms. A record high distance according to my phone. This was a breakthrough for me as I am spending most of my days sitting in front of my computer working, talking, or making speeches. I knew that the museum was impressive but seeing is believing and I was extremely impressed. If I go back, I can walk another sixteen kms as what I had seen was only a small part of the building.
I have also noted that Saint Petersburg had been renovated, cleaned, and better maintained since my first visit in 2018. That was also impressive to see. It means that economic development had been accomplished, and it is real. As an old capital there are many well-built buildings, still they are well maintained. Was there room for more maintenance? Yes, maybe. But under the covid conditions and worldwide economic down turns it was great to see that the city is improving and shining.
One issue I had noted from the Forum’s program package from the organizers was the light blue shawl where the participants from the milder weather conditions started wearing immediately. I found it to be a very considerate thought that accepts the fact that it may be colder than your usual weather that we are used to. I found it to be an excellent idea and useful courtesy.
We have nothing but to convey our sincere thanks to this organization as the women of the world and hope that it even develops into a bigger think tank with continued success.